Hamilton 1-2 Celtic: Leigh Griffiths sinks 10-man Hamilton as Bhoys move closer to Premiership title
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 09/04/18 12:01am
Leigh Griffiths' goal 57 seconds after coming on handed Celtic a 2-1 victory at 10-man Hamilton and put them within touching distance of the Scottish Premiership trophy.
Griffiths nodded in Scott Sinclair's deep cross having arrived as a half-time substitute at New Douglas Park, with the Accies already reduced to 10 men following two quick yellow cards before the break for Darren Lyon.
Hamilton had fallen behind early to Callum McGregor's strike off the post (3), but levelled with their first shot of the game when Rakish Bingham finished off Ali Crawford's flick (18).
The hosts failed to mount a similar response after Griffiths headed the Bhoys back in front, however, leaving Celtic only two points from their seventh successive Premiership title.
Hamilton: Fulton (7), Tomas (6), van Der Weg (6), Want (7), Lyon (5), MacKinnon (6), Jenkins (5), Redmond (6), McCann (6), Crawford (6), Bingham (7).
Subs: Sarris (6), Ferguson (6), Rojano (n/a)
Celtic: Bain (6), Hendry (7), Ajer (6), Boyata (7), Roberts (8), Brown (7), Ntcham (7), Tierney (7), Sinclair (6), McGregor (7), Dembele (5).
Subs: Griffiths (7), Edouard (6), Musonda (n/a).
Man of the match: Patrick Roberts
A comical opening saw Hamilton almost gift Celtic a goal inside six seconds, but when Moussa Dembele intercepted a lax pass from defence he was thwarted by Ryan Fulton.
It mattered little when Roberts drifted inside off the left moments later. He found McGregor in space and the midfielder's effort caressed the near post on its way in.
Hamilton were camped in their own half for the opening quarter of an hour, but when they did finally mount an attack they levelled, as Crawford touched on Daniel Redmond's header to release Bingham, who sprinted clear and equalised with a smart finish.
They set about containing the league leaders for the rest of the opening 45 minutes and did so fairly comfortably, even though Lyon saw red shortly before half-time for two bookings inside a minute - the second a contentious yellow from referee Andrew Dallas for a push on Kieran Tierney.
Celtic made five changes from the side held by Dundee in midweek, including goalkeeper Craig Gordon who was rested on Hamilton's synthetic pitch.
The Accies named seven new faces from their defeat at Hibs, leaving only Xavier Tomas, Shaun Want, Daniel Redmond and Darren Lyon in the side.
Both sides made changes at the break, and Celtic's made an immediate impact, with Griffiths drifting between the two Hamilton centre-halves to nod in Sinclair's inviting cross.
That was the second-half's crowning moment, which said a lot for Celtic's contentment to sit on their goal and man advantage, and Hamilton's reluctance to press until the final few minutes, by which time it was too little, too late.
Man of the match - Patrick Roberts
Manchester City loanee Roberts had a fine game, and was willing to drive at the home defence when others were intimidated by their sheer numbers.
He deservedly got an assist for McGregor's early goal, and could have had one of his own when he fizzed a shot wide from a corner.
Celtic have an Old Firm derby to look forward to at Hampden Park next Sunday in the Scottish Cup semi-final, a day after Hamilton host upwardly mobile Kilmarnock in their final game before the split.